TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Appeals Court Ruling Revives Case of Intercepted E-Mail

Re: Appeals Court Ruling Revives Case of Intercepted E-Mail

Barry Margolin (
Sat, 13 Aug 2005 16:56:30 -0400

In article <>, Monty Solomon
<> wrote:

> Bradford Councilman is former vice president of Interloc Inc., a rare
> book dealer in Greenfield that offered a free e-mail service to
> customers. In 1998, Councilman allegedly began intercepting any
> e-mails sent to his customers by the Internet retailer
> Councilman and his colleagues allegedly read the messages to see what
> Amazon was offering his customers, so that he could make attractive
> counter-offers.

> A grand jury indicted Councilman in 2001 for violating the federal
> wiretapping law. Councilman urged dismissal of the indictment, saying
> that the wiretap law did not apply because the e-mail was intercepted
> while it was stored in the memory of a computer, not when it was
> traveling across a network.

> A federal district court agreed and threw out the indictment. The US
> Justice Department, which had brought the case against Councilman,
> appealed the ruling. But a three-judge panel of the US Court of
> Appeals in Boston also rejected the charges. Last year, the Justice
> Department persuaded all seven appeals court judges to hear the case.

It seems to me that they're using the wrong law. Doesn't the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act have provisions prohibiting
email providers from looking at customers' mail, except as needed to
provide the service (e.g. server administrators sometimes have to look
at mail to diagnose problems)? Why are they using the a wiretapping
statute, when he didn't actually intercept anything on the wire?

Barry Margolin,
Arlington, MA
*** PLEASE post questions in newsgroups, not directly to me ***

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